This month we talk with Director Olivier de Lagarde, about his projects for his language school Elfe (école de langue française). The school offers French language courses in central Paris and specialises in French as a foreign language (fle) for mini-groups and individuals.
Q. What do you like most about being part of IALC?
Elfe is one of the founding members of IALC. The initial project was to gather and support the best language schools from across the world. This quality requirement which is constantly renewed gives us the possibility to use the IALC label as a sign of excellence for our students and business partners.
Being part of a global network striving for excellence is in line with our vocation. It gives us the right to present ourselves as a valuable partner to the best performing study travel agencies, but it also gives us the duty to constantly live up to our claims and to give to every student the best possible welcome and excellent teaching.
Q. You bought the school 3 years ago. What are your main objectives for Elfe?
First of all, I want Elfe to be a reference for the teaching of French as a foreign language.
Then I want the school work on the following two aspects: on the one hand, we must consolidate our traditional expertise with professionals and adults, and we must welcome new students, I think in particular of students from emerging markets.
Finally, Elfe makes a major contribution to the College de Paris, which is a network of Parisian high schools offering qualifications which may appeal to international students. Thanks to our expertise and experience with international students, we play the role of an international office in this innovative network.
Q. Elfe is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. What would you say is the key event in the life of the school?
This September 2014, we are launching a new programme: French + gastronomy and oenology (wine tasting). We already have this type of specialised training: French + fashion, or French + fine arts. This is part of a strategy to offer top quality French university experience which we are developing with our partners at the Collège de Paris.
Q. How is 2014 going for you, and how does it compare to last year?
Very good so far! The number of students is growing compared to the previous year in which we have developed a lot. In the last three years, we have grown by 47%.
Q. Any other new courses this year?
Along with our Gastronomy & Oenology programme, we have been developing a French + Internship course which enables students to combine learning the language with professional experience in France and in French. We also created a pathway called My Study in France which prepares foreign students specifically for French high schools and universities.
Q. Where do the majority of your students come from?
Switzerland, Germany, the USA, Japan and the UK.
Q. And what are your most popular student activities?
Excursions. Definitely! We take our students everywhere: to the classic places such as the Louvre near the school, Notre Dame, Montmartre, etc. and also to less well known alleyways or artists’ homes. All excursions are lead by French language teachers, so they are pedagogical as well as cultural.
Q. Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning French at Elfe?
Elfe offers a unique educational experience for students, with mini-groups or individual classes, combined courses, experienced teachers, exclusive activities and excellent accommodation options right in the heart of Paris.
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Q. Languages you speak or would like to speak?
I’d like to learn Portuguese. A bit like French, it used to be a language of Old Europe, but thanks to globalisation, it is becoming a language of the 21st Century.
Q. Favourite travel destination?
Usually Mediterranean countries, but these days, China.
Q. Favourite pastime?
I’m a compulsive reader.
Q. Favourite meal?
Beef tartar, preferably from Lipp.
Q. Dream dinner guest?
Warren Buffet, maybe..
'Qualite fle' accredited, and an official exam centre for the TFC (Test de Connaissance du Français), Elfe offers French classes for mini-groups, individuals or a combination of both. For information on learning French in Paris with Elfe, simply contact the school: firstname.lastname@example.org or +33 1 48 78 73 00.
Olivier de Lagarde, Director of French language school Elfe